Matt C. Abbott
'Cooking with the Saints'
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By Matt C. Abbott
May 17, 2019

I can barely make a sandwich, but Catholics who enjoy cooking and baking may be interested in the newly-released book Cooking with the Saints, by Alexandra Greeley and Fernando Flores. Thanks to Sophia Institute Press for allowing me to publish in this column the book's foreword (written by Father Edward C. Hathaway), introduction, and one of its recipes. Click here to order a copy of Cooking with the Saints directly from the publisher.

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Foreword


As the former pastor of St. Veronica Catholic Church in Chantilly, Virginia, I was fortunate to play a small role in the launching and growth of Cooking with Our Saints, a vibrant parish-based apostolate. Since its inception in 2010, Cooking with Our Saints has continued to grow in popularity and has nourished the bodies, souls, and minds of many people of all ages. This book is a beautiful snapshot of the apostolate and a wonderful reference for anyone interested in food, faith, fellowship, and fun.

Through the Incarnation, God came to dwell among us in a particular and profound way in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, who was and is truly God and truly man. Scripture records the exercise of His divinity through miraculous healings, walking on water, the Transfiguration, and ultimately the Resurrection. Scripture also details concrete examples of Jesus' humanity: He was born and grew up in a family; grew tired; wept; experienced hunger and thirst. He experienced firsthand what it is to be human. Over and over again, Jesus acknowledged our human, bodily needs.

Now the day began to wear away; and the twelve came and said to him, "Send the crowd away, to go into the villages and country round about, to lodge and get provisions; for we are here in a lonely place." But he said to them, "You give them something to eat." (Luke 9:12-13)

Cooking with Our Saints is an original, delightful apostolate that echoes that exhortation, "Give them something to eat," while teaching about the lives of many saints. Saints are those heroic men and women who have completed the journey of life on earth, lived it well, and serve as our models and inspiration. The saints and the recipes in this volume call to mind the diverse cultures that were the earthly homes of the saints. They likewise serve as a reminder that, no matter where or when we live, God calls us all to be saints.

This book is a lovely way for everyone to experience the triple nourishment – body, soul, and mind – that Cooking with Our Saints brought to one little Washington metropolitan-area suburb. The recipes here are delicious, authentic, tested, and easily mastered. They come from Alexandra Greeley, a professional chef and author of thirty-five cookbooks! Her partner in many aspects of the apostolate, Fernando Flores, is a tireless world traveler and an advocate of all things relating to food and faith.

I have no doubt that this book will be treasured by many. It is a compilation of delicious recipes, an approachable volume on the lives of saints, and, as the recipes are arranged chronologically according to feast days, it is a wonderful companion to enrich your liturgical year. I expect that this volume will be put to many good uses: by parishes to launch a similar apostolate, by families as a catechetical tool, or by neighbors wanting to start a fun supper club and practice hospitality. I encourage you to dig in, to try out the tasty recipes, and to take time to learn from the rich lives of so many saints.

Very Reverend Edward C. Hathaway

Rector, Basilica of St. Mary

Alexandria, Virginia


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Introduction


Most lay Catholics do not realize that the Faith honors more than ten thousand saints. These holy men and women are mentioned in prayers and celebrated on their feast days. The feasts are outlined in the Catholic Church's Tridentine Calendar, a calendar of saints' days throughout the year. Many countries, causes, and entities even have their own patron saints.

Catholic cooks globally have created and dedicated recipes to a variety of popular and even relatively unknown saints. Linking this food-and-faith connection with cooking classes at the Chantilly parish of St. Veronica Catholic Church in Northern Virginia seemed like an appealing idea.

When asked about offering this class at his parish, food-savvy Father Edward Hathaway endorsed the idea. Based on the lives and cuisines of Catholic saints, the classes, called Cooking with Our Saints, became a great success. People from every part of the world live in the Washington, D.C., metro area, so inviting a Catholic speaker from, say, Russia or Syria, was simple. A Cambodian Catholic presented a class about St. John the Apostle Church in her hometown of Siem Riep and taught the students a popular Cambodian dish, Samlar Machuu Pengpa'h Ning Mnoa'h (Pineapple and Tomato Soup).

The classes were always open to all parishioners and, eventually, to others as well. Students paid a minimal fee, learned how to cook an exotic meal, and sat down with pals to eat what they cooked. Often, the priests would stop by and bless the meal beforehand. After eating and cleaning up, the students took home a packet of recipes, a note about the Saint of the Day, and a prayer page with that saint's prayer on it. Students learning to cook foreign fare discovered that food and its special preparation are really gifts from God.

Clearly, then, the underlying incentive for these classes was straightforward: all people should thank God for the gift of food and the gift of life. Without the bounties of nature, no living creature survives. We must embrace and share the love of God with the neediest – those who do not understand or believe in God.

Realizing the universality of this reverence toward saints is inspiring. To that end, this book underscores what the saints teach us: persistence in faith and understanding that God directs us on life's pathways. All people are called to be saints, each in his or her own way. Whether evangelizing, doing works of charity, or quietly living the Faith, all can be an example for others.

Cooking with Our Saints,

St. Veronica Catholic Church (Chantilly, Virginia)




Click here for PDF of "Cooking with the Saints" sample receipe


© Matt C. Abbott

 

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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He also has an Associate in Applied Science degree in business management from Triton College. He's been interviewed on MSNBC, Bill Martinez Live, WOSU Radio in Ohio, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's 'Unsolved' podcast, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) and WISC-TV (CBS) in Madison, Wis., and has been quoted in The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. He can be reached at mattcabbott@gmail.com.

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